Funny story about these two graphic novels.
Every year, usually completely by accident, I end up spoiling most of my own Christmas gifts. 2019 year was no exception. I was looking for books to read during the holiday season and came across Grant Morrison’s comic books series containing an origin story for Santa Claus. I checked my local library and they had a copy available, so I requested a hold. On the way home from work one evening, I told Alaina that I was going to pick it up and she said that might not be a good idea. Of course she got it for me for Christmas! Of course! What do you get the guy that seemingly lives Christmas 24/7, 365? You get him the Batman: Year One of Santa Claus mythos.
I’m glad all the above happened as the editions Alaina got for me were much nicer than the ones from the library – real slick hardcovers with gilded edges. As far as the contents of the books go, the story itself seems to be divisive. Many found the first book to be a good bit of fun, while others look at the follow-up as being a cheap cash-grab with no heart. When it comes to my opinion, trying to tell the story of Santa Claus seems akin to walking a razor wire over a pit of broken toys – in other words, it ain’t easy. It’s difficult to straddle the line between seriousness and goofiness. Santa, by his nature, is a creation for children, so when you tell me this is a fantasy-driven semi-serious exploration of a buff, battle ravaged woodsman, it’s natural that I would be skeptical. Thankfully, I found this worked for me.
The story has Santa venturing into his home town, a walled kingdom with a ruthless dictator who forbids toys for the commoners choosing instead to pass any and all toys along to his spoiled rotten son. Chased from town and beaten within an inch of his life, Santa, with the help of woodland spirits, crafts mountains of toys to bring to the neglected children. In doing so, he challenges the way of life in the oppressed town and comes face-to-face with a ruthless regime.
Klaus is an interesting and original take on the Jolly fat man (albeit here he is tall, brooding and ripped to shreds) that sees him partner with a wolf and skilled enough to take on a good size army in hand to hand combat. It never feels hokey or contrived, but it doesn’t have that same feeling I’d associate with Christmas. You know, that warm and sappy feeling that makes some people dread the holidays and others want to do lines of hot chocolate powder because they simply can’t get enough of that holiday high.
That said, the sequel strays into that category, but it doesn’t work quite as well. So who knows what the hell I’m talking about. It’s made up of two shorter stories with the first one seeing Santa battle a witch awoken due to the melting of the polar ice caps caused by climate change. I thought this was the stronger of the two and one I would have liked to see take over the entire book. The second, which felt like a dud, saw Santa battle a cola corporation that failed to copyright Christmas.
I applaud Morrison for taking a shot at producing a comic book series about Santa Claus because quite frankly, there are not enough novels/comics about Santa or Christmas that fall outside the genre of cozy mysteries or romance. Maybe I’m the only one clamoring for this, but I’m glad to see it.